I have not been present recently on this blog. I could lie to you. I could say that life has been too busy; I could say that I started a temp job and have been consumed by it; I might even try to blame my kids or husband for my absence. But I want to be honest, even if it is scary to admit it.
I have been dealing with my mental health. Anxiety and depression have been ruling my days and nights for nearly a month.
I have spent more time in doctor offices this past month than I have during the rest of the year combined. I have cried more tears than I care to admit. I have tried new and old coping methods that have had varying success. I’ve switched medications and tried new ones, again to varying success. I have lost weight, which would be a blessing under normal circumstances, and my energy has been non-existent. It’s been a month of ups and downs, and I have often felt hopeless, scared, and as if something is permanently wrong with me and my mind.
Yet the most challenging part of all this is admitting to it – admitting that something is wrong, that I need help, and that I’m not well right now. It is a vulnerability that makes me uncomfortable and fearful, yet it needs to be done in order for things to improve.
This is not the first time I have dealt with this, yet it never gets any easier. I can feel it coming on yet feel powerless to stop it. Even if every symptom and emotion is the same as the other times, it is still painful to live with; it is even more difficult to remind myself that just like the other times, I will get through it. It takes time, patience, and work. I tend to have the latter in spades but lack the first two. I want to feel better now.
I am fortunate to have plenty of support. My husband and my family know me, love me, and help me in whatever way they can. It means that sometimes my husband simply sends me back to bed to sleep; my oldest daughter may help with her siblings; my younger children dole out hugs without any questions; my extended family is there on the phone or by text for anything. My doctors and a very special nurse have been there to answer questions, to give me tissues, and to work with me on medications and appointments. My editors and supervisors have been sympathetic and understanding. I can’t imagine dealing with my mental health without all the support and love.
I am slowly crawling out of the worst of this depression. I am able to smile more and medicate less. I sleep just a little better, which is immensely helpful. My appetite is returning as well as my energy. I am not 100% in the clear – I experienced two good days last week only to be thrown backwards again yesterday. But as the cliche goes, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, such a dark, hopeless tunnel. The ups and downs are difficult, but I’m on the up.
I have been writing for other sites (yay!). I had a couple posts for Hand-in-Hand, a non-profit in the Quad Cities, about my youngest daughter’s diagnosis with sensory processing disorder and about the trial and error of intervention strategies. I also had a debut for Her View From Home with a letter to my teenage daughter (also published here). My book club review on Military Moms Blog for Girl, Wash Your Face! went live, and I’m still working on my post for next month. The writing has kept me sane and given me more purpose. It is what made me promise to write here and explain my absence, even if it was difficult to admit.
I truly believe that the only way to change the opinions and stigma of mental health is to talk about it.
I am not asking for pity or advice or prayers. I am only asking for understanding and compassion, for myself and for anyone who is struggling. For every person who shows a little of this, the world gets a bit easier and a little less scary. There are so many ups and downs in mental health, and we are all doing the best we can to live each day. I appreciate every supportive gesture and word, and I cannot wait to be fully back to myself. Thanks for sticking with me. 🙂
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, please get help. Check out these suggestions from the National Institute of Mental Health. In an emergency, call the Suicide Prevention at 1-800-273-8255.